The Supreme Court has observed that in a case where a parent has lost their minor child, or unmarried son or daughter, the parents are entitled to be awarded loss of consortium and the is duty-bound and entitled to award ‘just compensation’, irrespective of whether any plea in that behalf was raised by the claimant.
The said judgment was passed by the Supreme Court in the matter of Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd vs. Nanu Ram Alias Chuhru Ram, Civil Appeal No. 9581/2018 (arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 3192 of 2018) decided in 18.09.2018
The Special Leave Petition had been filed by the Insurance Company to challenge the compensation awarded by the Punjab and Haryana High Court dated 27.09.2017, on certain counts to be contrary to the Constitution Bench judgment in National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680 where it was held that the amount of compensation to be awarded as consortium would be governed by the principles of awarding compensation under ‘Loss of Consortium’.
In the present matter the father(Respondent No. 1), brother, and sister(Respondent No. 2) of the deceased filed Claim Petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 before the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (“hereinafter referred to as MACT”) praying for compensation. There was no evidence of the income of the deceased. MACT awarded a compensation of Rs. 3,39,208 with interest @ 7% from the date of the claim until realization and costs, considering decaesed salary Rs. 5,342 per month on the basis of the Notification issued by the Labour Commissioner, Haryana. The Respondents appealed before High Court praying for enhancement of compensation.
The High Court found that the MACT had used the wrong principle for application of the multiplier. The multiplier ought to have been taken on the basis of the age of the deceased, and not of his father. The High Court re-assessed the compensation and awarded a compensation of Rs. 14,21,000 with interest @ 9% from the date of filing the claim petition till realization.
Aggrieved by the Order of the High Court, the Insurance Company filed the present S.L.P. before this Court, praying for setting aside the judgment.
The Apex Court relying on the constitutional bench judgement reiterated and explains the categories of the consortium which encompasses ‘spousal consortium’, ‘parental consortium’, and ‘filial consortium’, and also the various heads under which compensation is to be awarded in a death case. One of these heads is Loss of Consortium. The right to consortium would include the company, care, help, comfort, guidance, solace and affection of the deceased, which is a loss to his family.
The bench observed that parents are entitled to be awarded loss of consortium under the head of filial consortium because an accident leading to the death of a child causes great shock and agony to the parents and family of the deceased.
The court also observed that there is also the concept of parental consortium, which is awarded to children who lose their parents in motor vehicle accidents under the Act and only a few high courts (an example of Rajasthan High Court is mentioned) have awarded compensation on this count.